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(LEAD) Cheong Wa Dae says it's receiving real-time briefings on Iran situations

Politics 16:02 January 08, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with press briefing from 4th para)
By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, Jan. 8 (Yonhap) -- Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday it's keeping a close watch on the current situations involving Iran, taking relevant reports on a real-time basis.

With regard to what's going on there, the government, led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is "in close consultations" with local authorities with a top priority on the security and safety of South Korean nationals, Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung said in a statement.

She added the presidential office is receiving "real-time reports and closely monitoring the current situations."

Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung holds a press briefing in this undated file photo. (Yonhap)

Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung holds a press briefing in this undated file photo. (Yonhap)

Ko later told reporters that the government has already taken "lots of measures" in connection with the safety of South Koreans in the region.

"In addition, all kinds of preparations are being made to cope with whatever situations occur, with various scenarios considered," she said at a press briefing following the news reports of Iran's ballistic missile attacks on Iraqi bases housing American troops. Tehran has vowed to retaliate against the killing of its top military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani last week.

Ko also said the government has contingency plans related to the possible impact on the economy, as relevant authorities will continue meetings for the "comprehensive review" of what to do in case of emergency.

Meanwhile, Cheong Wa Dae appears to be sticking to a cautious and prudent approach on the sensitive issue of South Korea's role in helping ensure the freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.

"The situations are quite grave, and we are intending to deal with the situations cautiously," a Cheong Wa Dae official said on background.

In an interview with the KBS broadcaster aired Tuesday night, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Harry Harris said South Korea gets large amounts of energy from the Middle East and "So, I would hope that Korea will send forces out there."

Asked about his view, the Cheong Wa Dae official said there's no need to comment on each remark by a foreign ambassador.

On Monday, South Korea's National Security Council convened an emergency session to assess the Iran crisis and discuss its potential role in efforts to help stabilize the local security situations.

Its members reviewed viable options to "contribute to the international community's efforts" for the peace and stability of the Middle East, closely checking the matters of protecting South Korean people and companies in the region and potential impact to the safety of ships, Cheong Wa Dae said in a press release. But it gave no details.

Cheong Wa Dae's position has not changed in general since the NSC meeting, according to the official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.


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